This summer I hear the drumming, Four dead in Ohio. — Neil Young
While the news media was worried about Wisconsin, the state Senate in Ohio has passed (yesterday) legislation that eliminates faculty rights to organize (IHE). Period. In a last minute amendment, the Senate bill declares that any faculty member represented by a faculty senate — which is every permanent faculty member in public higher education in Ohio — cannot participate in collective bargaining because they are managers. (hold the !!!’s) If you are wondering how anyone could come up with such an incredible idea, it is based on (as you can read in the Inside Higher Ed article) the 1980 Supreme Court decision known as “Yeshiva.” In this case, management at Yeshiva argued that due to the shared governance culture faculty should be considered managers, and thus not have collective bargaining rights. The Supreme Court agreed, effectively barring every private university in the country from participating in collective bargaining since then.
This kind of argument and logic belies evidence and experience. None of us feel like we “manage” by participating in, say, a strategic planning committee. This legislation, and this approach to faculty as workers, is a direct attack on faculty rights as workers: without collective bargaining, our wages, hours, and workload (those core mandatory subjects of bargaining) become a matter of the administration’s judgment at any given moment. Is that really a good idea?
Ohio is too close to us for us to not to participate in this. We are in contact with faculty leaders there and will help them in any way we can in the near and long-term future.
As we gather more information, we will forward it to you — about rallies, e-support, or just news.
In solidarity in these troubling times,
N.B. Making collective bargaining illegal does not stop collections of workers with common issues from finding a way to collectively act. In this country, before the Wagner Act in 1935, workers grouped together and forced management to come to terms with them. It took a lot of fortitude and hard work, but it still happened. Laws like that passed by the Ohio Senate yesterday won’t make faculty act like indentured servants, allowing managers to act either by supposed fiscal restraint or patronization (“we know what’s best”). It’s a right that can’t be brushed away with ill-considered legislation.